To Succeed, Stop Trying To Please Everyone Ross | June 11th, 2013


Many young entrepreneurs and small business owners make a common mistake when they launch their new business or a new product/service. They believe that at launch, they should always target as many customers as they can.

This seems logical. If your potential group of customers is larger, aren’t you more likely to succeed?


It’s incredibly difficult to please everyone. Pleasing some people more means pleasing others less. There’s simply no way to create a good balance. This is true for inexperienced business owners and also for some of the world’s most successful Brands. For example, yesterday Apple unveiled the next version of its mobile operating system – iOS7. Some people were excited about the changes, but others found the new operating system confusing.

When you try to please everyone, you commit these three common mistakes that can easily destroy your business:

1. You lose focus on your core business. When you try to please everyone, you make compromises. Compromises weaken your brand. Look at the challenges Microsoft has faced over the years – in trying to be useful to as many people as possible, Microsoft has created software that’s difficult to use.

By focusing your efforts and not trying to please everyone, you will create a stronger brand and a more successful business. As I wrote previously,

Many businesses fail because their leaders lose focus while trying to incorporate all (or many) of their customers’ suggestions. It’s easy to fall prey to the “yes’ mentality. Saying yes makes us happy. We believe that saying yes is more likely to cause the customer to buy our product or service. Saying yes makes our customers happy.

Ultimately, don’t we want happy customers?

Of course we do. But making customers temporarily happy while destroying your company is, in my opinion, an unacceptable cost. No company has unlimited resources and when you say yes to customers  – you’re committing – and often, over-committing – those resources.

2. You confuse your customers. Your marketing messages should reinforce your brand. But if you try to please everyone, you have to either create targeted marketing messages that uniquely speak to different groups of customers, or sand down your messaging to create a common message that speaks to all customers. In either case, this creates confusion. Remember Netflix’s decision to create a separate DVD-by-mail division a few years ago? It was a complete disaster.

3. You become less agile. Successful companies can quickly adapt and evolve – both their products/services and their marketing. But agility requires discipline. Sixteen years ago, Apple had a dwindling share of the computer market. By consolidating its products and focusing its marketing, Apple has become one of the most successful companies in the world.

Saying “no” to customers can save your company. To succeed, stop trying to please everyone.

image credit: intherough

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  • Mark Seaton

    Great set of thoughts on this… Continuing the though I’d suggest it’s much more important to be sure to deliver something you/the company is excited about and that a key group of customers will be equally excited about and grateful to own. It’s always better to have a specific group of customers ecstatic about what you offer saying “I want that!” vs. many casually dismissing with “that’s nice…”

  • Ross Kimbarovsky

    Mark – absolutely! Very good suggestion.

  • Hi Ross. Today this seems particularly true. In a world of niche markets, staying true to your core customer base is clearly more important than trying to be all things to all people. Even as your business grows, you will need to take care of core constituencies. Straying from the expectations of these customers in pursuit of a more “mainstream” appeal (which can often equate to doing things like everyone else) can kill your business fast. Thanks for sharing with the BizSugar community.

  • Ross Kimbarovsky

    Thanks for commenting, Heather. You’re right – Apple has shown with phones and tablets that a company can focus on its core and still have plenty of mainstream appeal.

  • This is great article and I completely agree with Ross but one thing is the most important in this case! If you want to stop trying to please everyone you have to be Master in your business and you have to offer to your clients and prospects something that they WANT to pay you. Thanks again for this article.

  • Beres Post

    Thanks for this article, better to focus on your potention!

  • No matter what business you have you always have your core audience. It is better to focus on the core then the masses because pleasing everyone is never going to happen. Even fortune companies like Walmart know who to market to.

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